The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Canadian filmmaker Stephen McCaskell hopes that “Through the Eyes of Spurgeon” introduces a new generation to Spurgeon. It has been recorded in England, Ireland, France, Switzerland and the USA.
A new documentary on the life and legacy of 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon, set for release December 18, features two Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary leaders and the Kansas City-based school's Charles H. Spurgeon Library.
The film entitled, “Through the Eyes of Spurgeon,” was directed and produced by Canadian filmmaker, Stephen McCaskell. He said the goal of the documentary is to introduce a new generation to Spurgeon in the hopes that their relationship with God will be challenged and deepened as they learn more about "The Prince of Preachers," who was radically transformed by the Gospel.
Midwestern Seminary president, Jason Allen, and curator of the Spurgeon Library, Christian George, were interviewed at-length by McCaskell's film team in October, offering insight into the life of Charles Spurgeon, who is considered among the greatest Gospel preachers of the English language.
“Charles Spurgeon may be in full bloom right now in the Baptist and broader evangelical world,” Allen said. “Through his writings, he lives now more than ever, and this documentary will bring greater exposure to Charles Spurgeon, a greater exposure the church desperately needs.”
George, who has devoted his life to studying Spurgeon and who has seen many of the other available films about the great preacher, noted that Through the Eyes of Spurgeon is highly worthy of its subject.
"Out of all the Spurgeon documentaries that have been produced, Stephen has managed to create the most professional one on the market," George said. "His quest to create a film of excellence launched him on a pilgrimage throughout Britain and continental Europe. Very few people have been able to accomplish this. Stephen and his crew have achieved a masterpiece that is worthy of the subject on which it centers."
THE FILMMAKER: "SHOWING THE HUMAN SIDE"
McCaskell, who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, grew up as a pastor's son and accepted Christ as his Savior at age 17. He said Spurgeon's book, All of Grace, impacted him in many different ways and led him to read more of Spurgeon's books and sermons.
Finding that he couldn't help but share the things he learned with family and friends, he compiled his first book, Through the Eyes of C.H. Spurgeon, a collection of quotes sorted by different topics. This same thought process motivated his decision to produce the documentary.
"My desire to create a film about Spurgeon really stemmed out of the same desire I had to share his quotes with others," McCaskell said. "My goal in all of this is to continue spreading the words of a man who lived and was powered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The early planning for the film took place in October 2013, with all filming being completed this past September. McCaskell's teams traveled to England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, and Kansas City, Mo., to shoot footage. All of the locations in Europe were places Spurgeon had been.
"For example," McCaskell said, "We were able to visit Artillery Street Chapel, where Spurgeon was converted. The pews you see in the film are the original ones from Spurgeon's day."
After obtaining all the information about Spurgeon's life through multiple readings of his autobiography and other helpful resources, McCaskell contacted churches with Spurgeon ties and made filming arrangements. While in Europe, the team also shot segments involving the documentary's narrator, Jeremy Walker, who pastors Maidenbower Baptist Church in England. Additionally, McCaskell interviewed one of Charles Spurgeon's descendants, Richard Spurgeon, in Ireland, calling it among the project's most special moments.
McCaskell said his primary desire for the film is that as people watch it, they will come to know Spurgeon at a more personal and human level.
"I say 'human' because it's so easy for us to think that these giants of the faith didn't wrestle with the same things we do," McCaskell said. "In showing Spurgeon's human side, I hope that the Gospel he proclaimed is shouted even louder. And that's really what this documentary is about. It's about a man who lived and died in light of the Gospel."
You can see the full Documentary on the official website ThroughTheEyesOfSpurgeon.com